By Jim Dudlicek, Director, Communications and External Affairs
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce. Suddenly desiring a touchless retail experience, consumers have rapidly warmed up to e-comm shopping solutions. Almost overnight, many independent supermarkets without e-commerce solutions had to launch online platforms and establish pickup and delivery infrastructures to meet consumer demand.
So, you’ve joined the world of e-commerce, but now what?
NGA recently hosted a webinar to explore the issue. Moderated by Rob Christian, CEO of e-commerce platform ShopHero, the panel included Tyson Stewart, COO of Stewart’s Marketplace in Castle Dale and Roosevelt, in central and eastern Utah; David Cook, CFO and creative director of Bowman’s Market in Kaysville, Utah, north of Salt Lake City; and retail and CPG expert Steve Frenda, founder and CEO of consultancy Inspiring-Retail.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
Focus on your strengths: Independent supermarkets should leverage their locality, taking what shoppers like best about their stores and translating that experience to e-commerce. “We’ve built a community around our store,” Cook said, recommending that retailers see their operations through their customers’ eyes. “What are we good at? What are our opportunities? We can’t be Amazon, but we can be a different experience.” In this way, grocers can more directly speak to their customers’ needs and leverage the individuality of each of their stores, an advantage over big boxes, which are more likely to implement standard plans system-wide.
Market your e-commerce platform: “You have to let your shoppers know it exists, that it’s an easy experience, and incent them to try it for the first time,” Christian said. To that end, Stewart’s Marketplace has leveraged social media to advertise its online shopping service. Particularly effective, Stewart said, has been a YouTube campaign that follows the process of fulfilling an e-commerce grocery order, step by step.
Extend the experience beyond the basket: In an effort to “get out of the cart and jump into our shoppers’ lives,” Bowman’s Market – which is known far and wide for its scratch doughnuts – decided to launch a doughnut into space. The resulting campaign, which leveraged social media and other online engagement leading up to and following a live public event, helped boost the store’s appeal to a younger demographic and earned Bowman’s a 2020 NGA Creative Choice Award. Such efforts, Cook said, should answer the question, “What do I want to leave them with today and remind them about tomorrow?”
Make e-commerce part of your business culture: Selling online can be a challenge for independent operators, who historically have built their businesses around face-to-face transactions, Christian acknowledged. But with two-thirds of all grocery sales growth coming online last year, and with no signs of slowing down, especially after the accelerated growth during the coronavirus pandemic, grocers can’t afford to leave that money on the table. “All the rules have changed,” Frenda said, noting that because the way people choose products continues to evolve, “you need to evaluate what works best for your customers.”
To view this complete webinar and others in the series, visit https://nga.sclivelearningcenter.com/MVSite/default.aspx